Guest Post: Navigating and Negotiating Successful Transformative Agreements with Ringgold Data

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Guest Post: Navigating and Negotiating Successful Transformative Agreements with Ringgold Data

There are several models that accommodate the requirements of transformative agreements, all of which intend to provide a pathway to universal open access of scholarly journal articles. For the purposes of this blog post, we are going to focus on the Read and Publish model as the basis and examine some of the issues facing publishers and institutions and how they can be addressed. 

There is an enormous amount of data to analyze for publishers, institutions and consortia. All parties need to collate and examine the data held on subscription holdings and APC payments for all parts of the institution or institutions. Unifying the data on holdings and open access payments can be burdensome when the data is unconnected.  

Applying proper data governance enables publishers to understand and assess each component of the changing system. Only from a clear understanding of the entities and their relationships with one another within this space can models be developed to mitigate risk, predict the future, and manage change. Just as a watchmaker must understand not only the mechanism itself, but the individual parts of that mechanism to create a timepiece, scholarly publishers must develop a deeper understanding of who is producing what, from where, which is funded by whom.

Just as a watchmaker must understand not only the mechanism itself, but the individual parts of that mechanism to create a timepiece, scholarly publishers must develop a deeper understanding of who is producing what, from where, which is funded by whom.

When negotiating transformative agreements, institutions and consortia are faced with similar challenges to publishers. It is effectively the other side of the same coin. The primary concerns will be the terms, affordability, and value for money. For consortia, this may be across a diverse range of institutions with different needs and depths of pocket.  

Furthermore, institutions want to assess the impact of the research that their authors create. As scholarly communication moves to open access publication, monitoring the success of transformative agreements in improving research impact requires yet more data analysis. Institutions need to ask: 

  • Has the transformative agreement changed the levels of open access publication, and in which disciplines? 
  • Where has open access improved research impact?  
  • What is the nature of that impact?  
  • Are there differences between open access models? 

All of these components will require data, and the more it is structured, identifiable and granular, the better. Entering into any transformative agreement with that consistent data structure in place will improve impact assessments further down the line. 

To the rescue: Ringgold data and hierarchies 

The additional administration caused by transitioning to new models can equate to increased cost. Well-structured, and consistently identified data, is the best means of reducing pain points and supplying datasets for reliable analysis. As research is conducted by individuals who are affiliated with institutions, linking organizational and individual identifiers should be provided as part of the publication metadata.  

The Ringgold Identifier, and supporting Identify Database, is uniquely adapted to the complexity of academic affiliations. The identification of individuals, and their respective institutional affiliations has always been desirable, but with transformative agreements is now more important than ever. For publishers and institutions to successfully negotiate transformative agreements they need to be able to unambiguously identify institutions, their subscription holdings, and the corresponding authors of gold open access articles that are affiliated with the institution or part thereof. While submission systems have become sophisticated, complete with mechanisms to facilitate accurate affiliation management, there can be barriers to capturing information in a useful manner. In most cases, authors make every effort to properly identify their institution. They face choices, to affiliate at the main institution, a department, or college, hospital, satellite campus, or other division of an organization. When a non-hierarchical organization identifier is used, or no identifier at all, the challenge to find the “main” or “central” institution of affiliation becomes much more difficult. Ringgold ID’s and full institutional hierarchies enable the connection of this data. 

In the case where an author has made a self-affiliation with what is considered to be a subdivision of the “main” institution (often referred to as the ‘top-level’), the connection between the author’s specific choice (e.g. Department of Medicine) may conflict with a requirement to affiliate at a higher level (e.g. University of Washington). While the granular designation is preferred, for reasons laid out below, resolving that level of specificity to the more general “top-level” requires hierarchical connections between nodes in that particular organization’s structure. Assigning a general affiliation is often referred to as a “roll up”- meaning, the self -assigned affiliation is rolled-up to the “top level” or “main institution”. This is useful to publishers, institutions, consortia, and funders alike when performing analysis on where submissions originate, how the research is funded, and the manner of dissemination. 

In the case where an author has made a self-affiliation with what is considered to be a subdivision of the “main” institution (often referred to as the ‘top-level’), the connection between the author’s specific choice (e.g. Department of Medicine) may conflict with a requirement to affiliate at a higher level (e.g. University of Washington).

Capturing the deepest practical level of granularity in an organizational hierarchy is best practice, and required for successful data governance. Ringgold assigns organization identifiers to the components of all hierarchies, making roll-up to a higher node possible. Where organization IDs only exist at the top level, it is impossible to subsequently drill down to a departmental level. Once the respective elements are connected in a structured manner any needs for analysis at a deeper level are easy to satisfy. Ringgold holds metadata identifying the top level of an institution and can provide services to match subscribers and author affiliations to the correct level of the hierarchy and then provide the data with Ringgold IDs, metadata and the corresponding top level for the institutions concerned. 

In transformative agreements the “roll-up” function becomes even more important. Publishers and institutions must be able to accurately identify all of the transactions that they have with each other, both for subscriptions and open access payments. They must be able to estimate the open access publication requirements for the whole institution. They must also be able to identify the access permissions for the “read” component of the agreement. 

Furthermore, they must be able to identify any conflicts in the arrangements that they currently have. For example, where APCs are not paid by the top-level institution for a sub-unit, such as a research institute or hospital, which is included in subscription access to content or where subscription access is not included but APC payments have been made centrally. All of these considerations will be important when negotiating the deal’s structure and price.  Aligning the terms of subscription access to APC payment models in advance will help avoid costly miscalculations.  

Once the decision has been made to pursue read and publish transformative agreements the need for clean, well-structured data becomes critical. Ringgold’s unique and persistent organization identifiers enable the connection between subscription transactions and open access fees within the same institution. Ringgold’s hierarchies enable the roll-up of all information to top-level institution for analysis, not only during the assessment and negotiation process, but into the future when the results of transformative agreements are analyzed both in terms of cost effectiveness and the effect that model transition has had on the impact of published research. 

Learn more about Ringgold’s approach to data in the new white paper Navigating Transformative Agreements with Ringgold Data. 

Periodically, CCC invites solution providers to share their perspectives on key challenges facing the industry. This post does not imply endorsement of a particular opinion or vendor.

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Laura Cox

Author: Laura Cox

Laura Cox is the Chief Financial and Operating Officer at Ringgold, Inc. Laura sits on Ringgold’s Board and directs Ringgold's operations including finance and production. She is active in Ringgold’s outward facing activities, including as a member of the ISNI Board and steering committees in the scholarly communications environment. She was a publishing consultant for ten years, working with a variety of international clients including publishers, intermediaries and trade associations. Laura has extensive experience in strategic planning, data analysis, and management. She created the Consortium Directory Online which was acquired by Ringgold, along with her consulting business, in September 2011.
Jay Henry

Author: Jay Henry

Jay Henry is the Chief Marketing Officer at Ringgold, Inc. Jay leads Ringgold’s Marketing and Product Management operations and is a key contributor to strategic planning and tactical implementation across all divisions of Ringgold, Inc. He directly oversees all corporate branding, image and message production along with production of trade events and online presentations. He is often directly involved with large-scale data analysis for customers and internal needs and is the product manager and chief designer of IDO, the online portal to the Identify Database. His 20 years in scholarly publishing have spanned Ingenta, Blackwell, and private consulting.

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